• The thing about Basenjis is they will play, cuddle, show affection, when it suits them, and it is very difficult to make a child understand this. But you must. You have to keep the child from ignoring warning signs - often a soft rumble, not even a growl - when the Basenji needs its own space.

    For this reason, I have never sold a puppy into a household where there are very young children. Except once. But I watched that particular three year old with my own pack for quite a while and knew for sure that the parents would train the child. Some 18 years later, those parents bought that young lady, no longer a child, a Basenji puppy from me for her 21st birthday present !

    You have to train the child, the dog needs space and frankly, respect.

    Keep a very close eye on the situation and whisk the child away at the first signs from the Basenji, or better perhaps, forbid the child from approaching the dog at all unless you are close by, preferably on the floor with them or at least on the same level.

    This is one occasion when you have to side with the dog against the child. The dog is behaving perfectly naturally, for a Basenji. It wants to dictate the time for cuddles and play. Life with a Basenji is always on its terms.

    If you are not able to do this, better to let the Basenji go to a new home before any traits become engrained. Let it go without too much unnecessary 'baggage.' It would perhaps be the best thing for the dog and you can get one when your son is old enough to learn and you will have gained from this experience.

  • Typing "out loud":

    May I suggest taking family walks together on a daily basis (weather permitting)... The idea may seem a little daunting, but understand that dogs are very social creatures. Walking together signifies acceptance within the dogs "pack". Walking also helps to get rid of energy. If you schedule the walks for after dinner, you will have a tired Basenji and a tired 3 year old who can drift off to sleep around the same time. That might not solve all of the problems regarding a 3 year old and a Basenji, but the idea is that they would be more accepting of co-existing together.

    I am curious about how your toddler is reacting to the dogs reprimands. The repeated incidents indicate that he isn't afraid of being bitten. Does he not understand that the dog is saying, "no"?

    I also wonder if there isn't any way for you to provide a private sleeping area for your dog. (I never use a crate, but... I don't have young children either.) Does your dog have a crate, or dog bed, someplace where the child cannot gain access to the dog while it's sleeping? Either by physical barrier (kiddie gate) or through an interior doggy door (although a 3 year old child may be able to fit through one of those). Would it be possible for you to set something like that up?

  • We also have an 11 month old and I have had to spend a lot of time training my children to recognise when she doesn't want affection e.g. lip smacking, yawning and looking away. With consistent reminding they now understand and sometimes have to remind me 😀 They are older though (8 and 14) so easier to train.

    As already suggested a separate Basenji sleeping area that is out of bounds to your 3 year old would be helpful. We use an open crate with a blanket over the top and none of us approach it when she does in there for peace and quiet.

    How old is your other child? Can they help to remind your 3 year old?

  • The only thing I can add is that Leroy should NEVER be alone with your son. He is being a normal 3 yr old.
    I have 3 children (adults now) and could never understand why people said 'the terrible twos.' To me, threes were the worst, and need constant supervision.

    Your son is acting like a 3 year old should, Leroy is acting like a basenji will act, you just have to be there and supervise. Don't give Leroy even one chance to get rough with your son. he will never forget that it can get to that point.

    Best of luck to you all (and have fun with your 3 yr old son!)

  • I had a similar issue with one of my males, several years ago, where he attacked me when I accidentally rolled onto him when we were sleeping.

    The vet put him on fluoxetine (prozac), which helped significantly in forestalling any further aggressive actions on his part.

    You might want to consider having Leroy put on fluoxetine. It very likely would allow you to keep him, and reduce (or prevent) further attacks.

    Richard Paynter

  • Instead of Prozac,I recommend 5-HTP and a calming treat given daily.
    Prozac can cause liver issues down the road.
    Please, people TRAIN YOU CHILDREN !!!
    It's not the basenjis fault.
    If you can't get a handle on your child,how can you every get a handle on your basenji.
    I have chased many a family with unruly kids out of my house who wanted a basenji.
    And, how many wonderful basenjis get rehomed because of these very issues.

  • I would have to agree with some of the responses your getting. There are certainly breeds that are more tolerant than others. From my experience, my basenji was nippy and wary of my grandsons in the beginning. They are very loving but do need to have their space and respect their boundaries.

    Mine warmed up after a while and also going for walks together with the baby does help. They do not like to be abruptly woken up, tugged or poked especially when little ones don’t know their strength or understand their dislikes at such a young age. It’s not their fault. Teaching the little ones when is a good time and when it’s time to let them be is what I did. Observe them and guide both of them to be gentle. Mine certainly did great that way and now they love to be around them and sleep with them but again even still if they are too rough or disturb them while the sleep they will get a little snarl or a warning boop. I had my grandson give her treats too and she loved that too. When she wanted space I would use a baby gate and let her sleep or eat in peace. It takes time and patience and paying attention to their body language.

    Jealousy can also be a factor so also take time to give your basenji one on one walkies and reward them for good behavior. I am not an advocate for rehoming a pet, they are family but If you feel that you can’t invest the time, then rehoming to a good family is the best option.

    I don’t believe in giving dogs drugs for something that can be corrected with time and effort. Kids will be kids and dogs will be dogs, you can’t fault them for that. We have to respect their way of existence but teach them to adapt and respect ours as their owners and pack leader. That applies to all animals.


    There is hope. 😉

    I hope this helps you!

  • @rocky1 said in Escalating aggression towards my 3yo son:

    Please, people TRAIN YOU CHILDREN !!!

    Yes, key to the whole problem. Young children need to be supervised around animals, and they need to learn respect. Cats are actually a good teacher! Usually they are less tolerant than dogs, but also less lethal and will teach the child to leave them alone without serious injury.

  • I definitely agree with the post about big family walks and keeping a safety space - call it Leroy's room even - like a crate with an open end or a dog bed behind the coach, under an end table whatever might work best for him and your house set up. When Leroy's in his "room", instruct your boy that he must be left alone. This gives Leroy a safe space and then he can better control when he wants to interact and when he doesn't.

    I also might add that sharing in a skill you start teaching at your son's age. Much like you start teaching them to ask to play with a toy that another kid is playing with, you can get him vocalizing and asking to say hi to Leroy. You could start doing this as well. As you approach Leroy, you could say, "Hi Leroy can I pet you? Or can I say hi?" Etc. Then decide what is the behavior Leroy does that signals he says yes. Maybe it's when he stands up or only if he approaches you.
    And teach your son to start doing the same. Leroy probably sleeps harder than he used to and his startle response is getting mixed up with your son's presence. If you can get your son to give Leroy more time - from the asking the question and waiting for a specific response - that may help prevent the lashing out that Leroy is doing even when your son isn't interacting with him.

  • I think this dog needs a home without children. While Basenjis aren't necessarily great with all children, they are usually great with children from "their" family. For whatever reason this isn't the case. Consequently this is definitely not a good situation for either the dog or your son. To protect both of them it would be best to find another home.

  • I agree with others that it’s important for the Basenji to interact with a child on its own terms. You could maybe try having your child feed your Basenji (obviously supervised), if he doesn’t already do so. For example, your son could pour the Basenji’s food into the bowl, or give him his favorite treat from time to time. Simply have him present the food, then walk away and give the Basenji space to eat. Good luck- I am sure this is a stressful situation for your family!

  • @rocky1 said in Escalating aggression towards my 3yo son:

    Please, people TRAIN YOU CHILDREN !!!

    Sometimes it is a forlorn hope that people will realise 9 cases out of 10, it is the kids' fault when something goes wrong. People should be made to realise, by their breeder, that Basenjis love children but on their own terms.

    I agree with @donc - best to rehome this little Basenji before he gets a reputation for viciousness and is pts.

  • @JBuckee if you do consult with a behaviourist, it can be helpful to try and find one with experience in working with primitive breeds.

  • I just returned today from a visit with my grandchildren. They have two mixed breed dogs that tolerate an amazing amount of bumping and surprise hugs during rest time or whatever. I marveled as I said out loud multiple times that my Piper would never tolerate this random activity all around her.
    I agree that this dog is acting like a Basenji and my very strong advice for your family and your dog is to re-home the dog before something worse happens.
    All children and dogs are different and some things can be trained away, but in my estimation this is happening too often and the dog is not going to be easy to retrain for another family if he is not removed soon. And your son deserves to be safe and not injured for trying to show love.

  • @jkent said in Escalating aggression towards my 3yo son:

    @JBuckee if you do consult with a behaviourist, it can be helpful to try and find one with experience in working with primitive breeds.

    Better yet, it MUST be someone with experience of Basenjis. Personally, I have but little faith in trainers or behaviourists as far as Basenjis are concerned.

  • Years ago I had a family come to 'meet basenjis.' They had a 5 yr old son, and one that was 3. The 5 yr old was fine with the whole experience. The 3 yr old ran around like 3 yr olds will. My poor Ibis - I was sitting on the couch and she was behind me, peeking around to see what that 'thing was.' It looked like a human, only small, but it acted like a puppy? !???!!!!
    She did exactly what a dog with her temperament would do - observe from afar! I have no doubt that if I had let things get to that point, she would have nipped the boy - not a good experience for either!

    These folks decided, with a bit of educatioin, that their home was not quite ready for a basenji

  • @jbuckee how are things now?

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